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When Telephassa died, Cadmus buried her, and after being hospitably received by the Thracians he came to Delphi to inquire about Europa. The god told him not to trouble about Europa, but to be guided by a cow, and to found a city wherever she should fall down for weariness.1 After receiving such an oracle he journeyed through Phocis; then falling in with a cow among the herds of Pelagon, he followed it behind. And after traversing Boeotia, it sank down where is now the city of Thebes. Wishing to sacrifice the cow to Athena, he sent some of his companions to draw water from the spring of Ares. But a dragon, which some said was the offspring of Ares, guarded the spring and destroyed most of those that were sent. In his indignation Cadmus killed the dragon, and by the advice of Athena sowed its teeth. When they were sown there rose from the ground armed men whom they called Sparti.2 These slew each other, some in a chance brawl, and some in ignorance. But Pherecydes says that when Cadmus saw armed men growing up out of the ground, he flung stones at them, and they, supposing that they were being pelted by each other, came to blows. However, five of them survived, Echion, Udaeus, Chthonius, Hyperenor, and Pelorus.3


1 With this story of the foundation of Thebes by Cadmus compare Paus. 9.12.1ff., Paus. 9.19.4; Scholiast on Hom. Il. ii.494; Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 638 (who quotes the oracle at full length); Scholiast on Aesch. Seven 486; Hyginus, Fab. 178; Ov. Met. 3.6ff. The Scholiast on Hom. Il. ii.494 agrees almost verbally with Apollodorus, and cites as his authorities the Boeotica of Hellanicus and the third book of Apollodorus. Hence we may suppose that in this narrative Apollodorus followed Hellanicus. According to Pausanias, the cow which Cadmus followed bore on each flank a white mark resembling the full moon; Hyginus says simply that it had the mark of the moon on its flank. Varro says (Varro, Re Rust. iii.1) that Thebes in Boeotia was the oldest city in the world, having been built by King Ogyges before the great flood. The tradition of its high antiquity has been recently confirmed by the discovery of many Mycenaean remains on the site. See A. D. Keramopoullos, in Ἀρχαιολογικὸν Δελτίον (Athens, 1917), pp. 1ff.

2 That is, “sown.” Compare Eur. Ph. 939ff. For the story of the sowing of the dragon's teeth, see Paus. 9.10.1; Scholiast on Hom. Il. ii.494; Hyginus, Fab. 178; Ov. Met. 3.26-130. Similarly, Jason in Colchis sowed some of the dragon's teeth which he had received from Athena, and from the teeth there sprang up armed men, who fought each other. See Apollod. 1.9.23. As to the dragon-guarded spring at Thebes, see Eur. Ph. 930ff.; Paus. 9.10.5, with my note. It is a common superstition that springs are guarded by dragons or serpents. Compare The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, ii.155ff.

3 The names of the five survivors of the Sparti are similarly reported by Paus. 9.5.3; the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.1179; and Hyginus, Fab. 179. From the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.1179, we learn that their names were given in like manner by Pherecydes as indeed we might have inferred from Apollodorus's reference to that author in the present passage. Ov. Met. 3.126 mentions that five survived, but he names only one (Echion).

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